Montgomery Manifesto: Blogging Interview

Montgomery Manifesto: Blogging Interview

I was dropped in for a podcast interview with Mick Montgomery (Known for his work with the Warcraft-related Starting Zone podcast). Our main focus on WoW though. For a nice change of pace, we sat down for a solid hour just talking about blogging and online content creation. Most of you won’t really care, but if you’re interested in the blogging side of things, you’ll learn a little more about me from a different angle. Though we did end up talking a little more about Mists of Pandaria at the end.

Listen here

Obviously, when you do a website that focuses on written articles, you have a great deal of writing to do. Has doing the site forced you to change your writing style in any way?

I’ve learned to compress my writing. I try to be more succinct. I want to get straight to the point. Forget the foreplay. It’s a busy world out there. People have stuff to do. Every time I finish a post, I scan it and I ask myself if I really need that word there. Every word, every sentence must have a purpose. If there’s no reason for it to be there, it’s gone. It’s not as ramble-y as it used to be.

What do you think about the recent reductions over the last two years in subscribers and how does it impact your site or any wow oriented content creators site?

I think we’re going to see a spike in subscriptions again with the expansion. You can’t look at WoW as having a constant or growing number of subscribers all the time. Content is produced in waves and subscriptions counts are going to fluctuate to reflect that. In terms of impact, I think we’ve seen a decrease in the number of viewers and content consumers across the board. People lose interest, they’re not going to read those blogs for that kind of information. At the same time, it also affects bloggers themselves. If they get bored with the game, they’re not going to maintain their blog.

Making Connections

Making Connections

You’ve figured out why you should blog.

You worked hard on naming conventions for your blog.

You learned the nuances when writing for the internet.

You’ve mastered Writer’s block.

And you learned to… just get off your ass and write.

But despite applying all the technical and promotional techniques that you learned, you’re still not quite getting the comments you’re looking for. The traffic isn’t reflecting the effort and work you’re putting in. No facebook likes, Google +1’s, and no retweets. In fact, you’re gradually contemplating throwing in the towel.

What gives?

It’s because you’re missing a crucial element. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a Webinar from John Morrow, associated editor from Copyblogger.com. It was a free, 2 hour session discussing elements of traffic and community building. I figured I’d share the notes I took.

What we’re taught

Content: Write awesome content. The logic is if you keep writing amazing and helpful stuff, you’ll get noticed and your viewership will start skyrocketing.
Promotion: At the same time, you need to promote your posts. Ask for links, retweets, shares, etc. If people don’t know you exist, they’re not going to read your or share your stuff. So you have to do what you can to get known.

You get jillions of readers if you can combine them effectively.

The equation

Content + Promotion = Readers

But, this equation is missing something.

It’s off slightly. Content and promotion are both important, but there’s a missing component of the formula. You can still write smashing hits and you can still get those mentions, but it might only work for the short term and it doesn’t help your overall strategy of your blog.

It’s about the Connections

This is what the actual equation is.

Content + Promotion + Connections = Readers in the bajillions

Jon used best selling authors as an example.

The easiest way to write a best seller is to already be a best selling author. Guys like Seth Godin and Stephen King don’t need to ask for agents, or be booked to TV shows. People just already know who they are. The reasons why new authors struggle is no one knows who you are. You have to fight to get an agent, a publisher, an interview and so forth. This works the same way for bloggers.

“If you deleted my blog and all my subscribers (I’d be sad for one), but it’s not the end of the world. Because over the past few years, I’ve built relationships with all the popular bloggers in the world. I could still do in a flash.”
-John

The real key to blogging isn’t who you know. The key to blogging is who knows you. No matter how good your content, or how awesome it is or how hard you work, it’s not going to matter.

If you don’t have any influential connections, it’s not going to matter.

Popular bloggers ignore you because they don’t know you. If you email a blogger asking for a link to your site, you’ll most likely be ignored.

If you think about it, we do the same thing.

You scan through your emails and look for the senders you recognize. Anyone you don’t know, you end up ignoring or skipping over. Popular bloggers get on average 100+ emails (some go to 500+) per day. The reality is, most bloggers don’t often respond via email (at least, not right away). We respond to people we know. You have to get lucky with them opening your email to help you out. That’s not a situation you really want to be in which is why why link building won’t work.

If they don’t know who you are, it’s impossible. They have to know you first in order to get you links.

Let’s talk about twitter

What’s supposed to happen is you share your link with your friends. They share it with their friends and then it goes viral and snowballs it.

Wrong. That’s not actually how it works.

The posts don’t start with people with few friends. It’s not actually consistent. It’s like winning the lottery online. The way viral posts usually happen is they go top down. They get other people with big followings on twitter to share it with their followers and to their friends on twitter. And then their followers. It starts with the top people and works down.

The 3 C’s

Your goal must be done in these 3 steps in this order.

Step 1 — Connections with list owners

Connections means that those bloggers know your name. They’ve read your work. They’ve had a conversation with you. They think you’re smart and they like you.

No, this doesn’t mean a connection on LinkedIn.

Now list owners means people who have a huge twitter following, high RSS counts, a large emailing list, etc. They’re all different types of lists. You need to get THOSE people to like you because they can help spread your content to their followers and readers.

Step 2 — Content creation

Create awesome content targeted specifically at their audience, point out how it’s relevant to their audience, and ask them to promote it. You can’t just write great content and “hope” someone stumbles upon it. You need to have a connection in mind.

Step 3 –  Convert visitors

Ideally, you’d be able to offer your readers something of value. Blogs in other niches hook up readers with like an EBook, a report, or something but unless you’re really intense about it, I wouldn’t stress about that.

When it comes to subscriptions, Jon advises that email is way better than RSS. The engagement level and retention of email over RSS is about 20 times more valuable.

But, you should offer both types anyway. Make sure they’re full feeds.

This is the wrong order

  1. Content
  2. Connections
  3. Convert

Instead, the actual order should be:

  1. Connections
  2. Content
  3. Convert

The problem is you start as nobody. How do you become a somebody?

The answer to this is guest blogging!

Jon discovered that this is the only strategy that consistently works for every topic, every blogger, every niche. Some strategies work for certain topics and bloggers, but guest blogging is good for everything. If you guest on a big blog, and you write a mindblowingly amazing post, readers are going to say that post is awesome and they want to read more.

Here’s another analogy he used.

Think of it like an opening act for a major concert.

You’re performing on stage for someone like The Rolling Stones and you’re the first act.

The act of writing a guest post for a popular blog, those bloggers will love you. These posts get you introduced to other popular bloggers and influencers as well. This does NOT mean commenting. This means an actual article to give away to big popular blogs. We’re talking like 1500+ words. You write a popular post for one of these blogs and they edit it for you and give you feedback.

As an aside, if you ever get a chance, take your original version and put it side by side by the edited version. Ask yourself what changed and why.
The smartest thing you can do is link directly to your page (If possible, link directly to a page that offers something cool, like a webinar, or a report, etc).

Make connections

I want to re-emphasize one more thing.

Network the hell out of everything.

Make friends.

Get contacts.

Know people.

Connect.

It is the universal skill of all universal skills. So many opportunities will be available to you. This is one of the lessons my dad instilled in me when I was younger (actually, this was second after knowing my 12 x 12 multiplication tables). While you’re never going to be best friends with everyone you meet, it doesn’t hurt to be on relatively good terms with everyone.

This isn’t even about blogging. Things like academic openings or even job postings? Amazes me how much of that stuff is behind closed doors. Who you know can make a way bigger impact on your life than what you know. You never know when a blogger’s brother’s wife is looking to hire someone for a specific position that happens to coincide with your goals.

You never know what doors will open from that one blogger who takes you under their wing, or from that one guy who retweets your post.

On the other hand, if there’s nothing wrong with burning bridges as long as it’s done for the right reasons. Alas, that’s beyond the scope of this post.

“More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.”
- Peter Drucker
Four Links for the New Guys

Four Links for the New Guys

Someone on Twitter pointed this out to me the other day.

The same guy who’s selling me gems in Diablo 3 is the same guy who makes really awesome noodles and is the father of the Dragon Warrior!

Mind. Blown.

Progression wise in Diablo 3, my Wizard’s level 38 or so and is halfway through Act 2. Also, those sand wasps in act 2? You know, the ones that crap out 4 mini wasps that then proceed to take a dump and two shot my character?

Those bastards can die a horrible, fiery death.

Oh, and it’s a Saturday. The theme this week is tips for those who are new at something.

::

Tips for the Middle Lane and Essentials: Last Hitting

I wrote two posts on how you can become a better player in the middle lane. Winning the center lane is a huge boost to your team because it’s the quickest access route between both bases. Also allows the middle player to roam to the top or bottom lanes and provide fire support. The second post on last hitting is a universal skill for almost any champion in any lane (supports being the exception). Excellent pointers for new players to League of Legends.

::

Hey, Newbie! Stop writing!

Beej has a great piece for new, aspiring bloggers everywhere – Don’t be a writer. Writing shorter and simpler is the second longest skill for me to pick up since I had just left the academic world. There, you’re at the mercy of deadlines, word count minimums, and page limits. Your blog has the luxury of being limitless. The most common argument I see against writing shorter and simpler goes like this:

“But why are we trying to make our audience dumber? Why not sound smarter and help educate people?”

How do you plan on helping people get better if they don’t understand what you’re trying to say? If you can’t get your point across in a few sentences, then it’s time to find a new point. The job of the blogger is to get the message across. Using complex vocabulary and 6000 words you pulled from the thesaurus may look impressive to your English teacher but the cold reality is not many people will make it that far.

Why make your message harder to understand?

::

Anxiety, the Scariest Raid Boss

I am not afraid of anxiety. I dominated public speaking throughout my years in school. Wasn’t afraid of standing in front of my peers. Raiding’s a little different. You’re playing with a group of players  and you don’t want to screw up. Some players get a little anxious when thrown into a guild tackling progression content. Being nervous about your first raid’s more common than you might think.

My biggest public speaking fear? Being thrown into a room with an amazingly hot woman and just screwing up talking. I’m at the point where I feel if I utter “Hi there” I get responded with “YOU MISOGYNST PIG” or something. Not that it’s ever happened, but well.  Give me the auditorium full of listeners instead.

::

Four Reasons to Like Diablo 3

If you’re still on the fence about D3, check out Liore’s post on why she’s a fan of the game. She and I share the same feelings about bugs too, it seems.

Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Does Your Blog’s About Page Answer These 7 Questions?

Bloggers who are just starting out tend to either write one of these About Pages hastily or outright forget them entirely. Some of the reasons I’ve seen include this type of thinking:

“Readers are smart! They can figure out what kind of person I am by reading all of my posts if they want to.”

The problem with that line of logic? You run the risk of readers not caring or not interested in you long enough to read your posts in the first place. Having an informative about page can go a long way. It gives you a chance to be transparent about your intentions and let your players know a little more about you.

Who are you?

Include the online handle you’d like to be addressed by. Unless your name is actually admin, you’ll want to reflect an identity that you wish to use. Some people like to use their real names. If you’re a gamer (and I bet you are), add a little information on the games you play and the classes or roles that you stick with. If you’re a part of a guild, tell us a little bit about them.

What’s your gender?

Now before you pounce on me, I’m not saying that it’s significant. Being a dude or a woman isn’t going to affect your blogging skill. But, I’ve been burned before in the past because I used the wrong noun when I’ve linked to or wrote about other bloggers. You can ask Cynwise and Lilpeanut. Otherwise, you may end up being referred to as an it!

Have any social media pages?

If you use Twitter or have a Facebook page for your blog, consider including those. Other solid choices could be your Pinterest, Google+, or your stream page (Own3d or Twitch, for example).

What is your blog about?

Lay out your primary focus. It’s not a problem to deviate once in a while and add a personal post or two that isn’t related to your main niche. But if you have a home and garden blog, I expect to see more posts about that instead of fashion related topics. You don’t necessarily have to restrict yourself. But if your best friend asks you what your blog is about and you can’t explain to them in 10 seconds, then you might want to refine that some.

Why should we read it?

It’s a similar thought process to the above question. You can say you write for entertainment. You can say you write to teach others. It can be as something simple as offering your personal insight or perspective about a game or something structured like full guides and tutorials on accomplishing a specific goal.

What are your interests?

Add a bit of personality! If you’re comfortable with it, share a few interesting things about yourself. It’s cool to find out that both you and a blogger share an interest and a similar past time. Do you play Magic? Do you watch Community? Own a Mac? You get the idea.

Do you have a picture?

For privacy reasons, I don’t suggest sharing your own photo unless you’re really comfortable with the idea. But since you’re on this blog with an interest in blogging, I’m going to make the presumption that you’re interested in some form of gaming. Consider using a digital avatar of your main character in your game in a wicked pose. It’s not a necessity, but don’t underestimate the little things.

Going to cap off the post with a few examples of excellent About pages.

Examples

forthelore

 

healbot

 

bossypally

 

pon-about

 

about-jared

New Blogger Initiative

New Blogger Initiative

Welcome to a special edition of this week’s The Herald.

The New Blogger Initiative, run by one Sypster of Biobreak, aims to help teach and cultivate bloggers looking to improve their craft. Looks like it’s been picking up some steam as there’s a large number of sponsors (veterans) and new guys. Poking around, you can find some quality tutorial links on best practices and ideas when working with your blog.

You can find all of the published articles in one thread here (Personally, I would’ve suggested making each reply it’s own post for easier scannability or condensing similar topics into it’s own thread).

If you’re not sure where to start, let me pick out the ones you should begin with.

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Screenshots Make Your Blog Interesting

Eva’s post has excellent tips on laying out your screenshots and maximizing the art of in game photography. If you’re in an area where you’re not able to snag a screenshot, then any visual appeal helps. If you’re stuck at work and want to publish a post, see if you can generate a graph or a pie chart. Worse case scenario, you can snag some stock images from a large image service that allows it (I recommend Stock Exchange). I’m amazed at what kind of impact a 48 point white text on a black image background can make on a blog that’s predominantly light colored.

::

Figure out why you want to blog

Paeroka asks you to dig deep down inside and figure out why you want to blog. Once you get that part squared away, you can move on from there. Think of blogging as a type of sub-gaming activity (Raiding, PvPing, etc). If you can figure out what you want to do within the game, you’ll have a stress-free time mapping out your activities.

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So you Wanna Be a Blogger

Similar to Paeroka, Windsoar expands further on Paeroka’s topic about getting started. You have to factor in time. You don’t need to cram your blogging on the bus or train on the way to work but how much time you set aside is going to dictate your quality and quantity. There’s no real wrong answer on things to write about. You can review different aspects of a game. Help players by writing guides. Lay down your experiences and comment on your own activities.

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Pros and Cons of Self Hosting

If you’re looking to compare the pros and cons of self hosting, Stropp has you covered. By aiming for self-hosting, you are making a commitment to yourself. It’s like signing up for a club membership at the gym. You’ve already pre-paid that one year and you don’t want to lose on that investment, so you keep going. That being said, if you’re unsure about handling the demands of blogging, you should start with a free one first. Get your feet wet. If all you care about is getting your words and thoughts out there, you can do some practice runs on the WordPress hosted plan. If you want to see how you would react to the opinions of readers, find a blogger you admire, and email them to see if they’re willing to publish your piece.

If you’re only going to listen to one piece of advice, then listen to this one:

Writers who don’t write aren’t writers.

That’s advice from my old English 12 teacher. Kindly old man. Passed away a few years ago. Always thought of him as Gandalf with glasses who used a pen instead of a wand.

I miss him.

As an aside, I’m looking to take on a blogging padawan. Any takers?

How to be a Purple Kodo

How to be a Purple Kodo

Making the decision to become a blogger about your favorite game can be a daunting task. There are a lot of things to consider before jumping into the project. Even then when you enter into the race, it can sometimes be hard to stand apart from the pack. Matt and Joe will teach you how to be the Purple Kodo in the herd.

Starting a blog, website or forum is a big task. Let no one tell you differently. You shouldn’t be afraid of it though, it’s a rewarding experience. It is something though that you should not be afraid to ask for help or advice from the community. To that endeavour Matt and I have decided that we’re going to be offering our assistance for those looking to get started in blogging, forums or just generally joining the community. Crafting a successful site and becoming a part of the WoW Healing Community can bring with it a lot of questions, and being people of the community we like to help out. So here is our first official post to help you become the fabled Purple Kodo.

Questions For the Pros

Hi,

After being promoted to healing officer for my guild, a lot of people, not only in my guild, but in the community on the server have been asking tips of me of late. So, in my mind, I decided to make a website to help these people by making guides, writing blogs, etc. Thinking that this would be relatively easy, I began looking for the materials that I would need, get ideas from other sites, like yours. After deciding that I was crazy and I would need help, I would like to ask for any advice that you guys may have in this be it free video editing software that is pretty solid, how to get my site out there, etc. Thanks guys, and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Mylindara
Resto Shaman

Mylindara,

Writing blogs and creating a website is a great way to consolidate your tips, tricks and information for healing. Your story is pretty much exactly what prompted me to start blogging. I had recently been promoted to a healing officer position and people from within the guild, and around the server, started asking for advice. Before I get started with offering up some advice on pulling it all together I need to issue a warning here.

Starting, maintaining and producing a website or blog is a lot of work. By undergoing this you are basically inviting yourself to another part-time job at a minimum. Take it from someone who has started quite a few forums, websites and blogs. You have to ask yourself if you’re willing to put in the work that it will require in order to not only consolidate the information, but keep it up to date, accessible and clean from spam and flame. You’ll also want to make sure that content is updated at much as possible to keep it fresh in people’s RSS feeds.

Still with us?

Matt’s comments in blue while mine will be normal.

Getting started

OK here are some pointers on getting started. WordPress.com does free hosting for blogs, as does Blogger. WordPress.com and WordPress.org give you a little more choice for themes, and offers some pretty good tutorials on the basics of blogging and setting it all up. For video editing tools, your cheapest bets are pretty good. The free windows live moviemaker is pretty darn good for simple editing of videos, as is iMovie that comes with an apple computer. If you want to get any fancier than that you’ll have to spend some cash, but those should do just fine. Also pick a name for the site that is both catchy and sums up what you’re all about (World of Matticus, TotemSpot, Way of the Totem for example).

Don’t make the jump to self-hosted right away. It requires a little advanced technical knowledge on your part when it comes to websites and site design. My first advice to you is to see if blogging is something you actually want to do. I’m not referring to intention here. Actually write it and see if you like. I can’t emphasize how much work is involved at times. In fact, as I’m finishing my side of this post up, it’s almost 1 AM here in the west coast. Don’t expect this to be an easy, overnight project. It’s taken me 3 years and I don’t think I’m done yet.

Be patient when it comes to results. Let me show you a screenshot of the first year.

analytics-0708

This site was getting an average of 200-300 hits a day. It wasn’t until about a year later before traffic exploded and the numbers became fairly consistent. Hey, if you’re not in it for the views, no problem. If you are in it for the views, then you’re going to be in for a long rep grind with the internet.

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.”

- Ross Perot

Getting out there

As far as getting your site out there, get active in the greater healing community. I earned a reputation through posting frequently on forums like Elitist Jerks and PlusHeal. Add your site to your signature, post often, and participate in the community. You represent your site in all facets, and the more people think of you, the more they’ll think of your site. If you don’t have a twitter account, get one. Matt pushed me into it a while ago, and it’s still very true. Twitter is a great way to get your posts out there on the web and let people know when new posts are active. There is a strong healing community present there, and a strong WoW community in general. I know that I’ve gotten into plenty of healthy debates over twitter and gotten a lot of great information through it as well. In the end it’s the writer that makes the site. Not just through the content they produce, but how they represent and conduct themselves in the community. Keep the word community in mind, I’ve seen good sites with great information die because the person wasn’t present in the rest of the community. Also remember that it is OK to ask for help from the community. I’ve had another healing blogger help me with my own private hosting, and I wouldn’t be writing on WoM alongside Matt if he didn’t make a call out for help with blogging and content. You should still keep your content up to date, and try to post on a regular schedule. If you’re writing alone, once or twice a week is a good pacing to make sure you always have fresh content, without letting yourself get burned out on it.

Link out. I cannot emphasize this enough. Find ways to link to other bloggers. I know it defies logic, but other bloggers do look at who links to them (there’s some blogging code and mumbo jumbo built into most major blogging platforms that show this). The point is to catch and attract their attention. Your goal is to develop readers first and that’s one way to start. Write a fantastic blog post? Chances are, it’ll get linked to as well. Blog Azeroth is another excellent resource to turn to in order to get started. Check out this post at Disciplinary Action for additional pointers.

This has gotten a little long winded, so I’ll round it up here. It’s a lot of work to put it together, but if you’re willing to put in that hard work it can be a very rewarding experience. I know for me every person who tells me my post helped them down a boss, or top the healing charts or even just get their guild a little further along, I count each of those as a victory in and of itself.

We all blog for different reasons. Your goals are going to be different from that of others. Blogging is like playing WoW: There’s multiple ways to go about it. If you’re trying to achieve something specific, then it takes a certain mindset and methodology to go about it. Larisa at the Pink Pigtail Inn uses different measurements and has different goals than I do, but that doesn’t make it any less valid in any way. She writes about life for her in Azeroth and her personal views about WoW and the community. We write about how to kick ass healing along with raiding and guild management tips. Although we may not see eye to eye, that doesn’t change my deep respect for her and her work.

Some people just find pink pony tailed gnomes more appealing then grey bearded dwarves, I suppose.

Good luck in making your new site, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

~Joe and Matt

There you have it folks. If you have any questions at all about blogging, feel free to contact us here at the site. We’d love to get your questions, and to help you out!

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

Reinvigorate Your Blogging Self with These Ideas

reinvigorate-blog-ideas

New site design is coming along extremely well and I’m very pleased with the progress so far. It’ll definitely go up within the month. Check the bottom of the post for a sneak preview. School begins for me tomorrow which means I’ll have more time to write since I won’t be working as much.

So what’s up, fellow bloggers? Got the no-beta-key blues? Running out of things to blog about? It is definitely the calm before the storm. I know several blogs are hitting that hibernation period where they’re just waiting it out until there is stuff to write about. I suffer from the opposite. I have too many ideas but not enough time. But if you’re stuck and still learning for something to blog about, let me try to help!

I have something called an inspiration file. Its basically a jumping point that I use whenever I’m in need of post ideas. Any idea I ever have whether it is good or bad goes in there. If I hit a snag one day where I’m stuck, I’ll pop it open and see what’s in there that I can use. Sometimes you can chain one post idea into another idea or break it down into multiple posts. I’ve had a habit in the past of trying to be too complete when it comes to posts and this is one way of breaking them up into smaller chunks.

Don’t even worry about credit. Take an idea, twist it, manipulate it, turn it into whatever you like. Its yours to use and abuse as you see fit. Let it grow and evolve.

Your guild

It doesn’t matter if you’re a GM, an officer or just a guy within the ranks. There will always be players interested in policy making and guild experience as a whole. Are you satisfied with it? Any changes you’d like to see made? What are some other day to day observations?

  • Making Roster Changes
  • Lessons You’ve Learned
  • A Shift in Loot Policy
  • How not to Evaluate Potential Applicants
  • A Day in the Life of Your Guild
  • How to Break the Ice with New Players

Your Class

Everyone loves to read about class news and class mechanics. With the expansion months away, there is still time to teach new players (or alts) the fundamentals of playing. Or heck, if you have a burning question about a specific class, throw it to your readers. There just might be someone out there who can give you a hand with it.

  • How to be an Expert <Class>
  • Being a <Class> in a Raid
  • Mastering <Class> in PvP
  • Common <Class> Mistakes
  • Why You Picked Your Class Instead of a Different Class

You

Time to dive into some introspection. This could range to just about anything in regards to you. Is there something you wanted to get around to but couldn’t? For me it would playing Shadow. No matter how much I try, I just can’t seem to do it. Maybe you’ve had a problem during your experience in WoW like an argument with a player or managing loot. How did you resolve it?

  • Things You Wish You Knew How to do but Couldn’t
  • One Shotting Procrastination: Your To-Do List Before the Expansion
  • A Personal Guide to Staying Happy in WoW: What Does it for You
  • Are You a Socially Responsible Guildie?
  • 5 Tips to Never Be Late for a Raid Again
  • Managing Your Server Reputation

Your blog

Your blog is your soap box. Take good care of it! What are your future goals? What type of readers are you appealing to? If you’ve been around for a few months and have developed a steady readership (which doesn’t have to be enormous mind you), ask them what they want to read about. Do not under any circumstances accept “Whatever you want” as an answer. At the same time, it does have to be a topic you’re interested in writing. Lastly, ask yourself if you would read your own blog. If you wouldn’t, figure out why.

  • Upcoming blog plans
  • What Would You Readers Want to Read About?
  • Your Blogging Goals

Fill in the blanks

Here are a few generic ideas that you can take and apply to any topic of your choice. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and come up with something, right?

  • 15 Tips to …
  • The Truth Behind …
  • How I did …
  • How to <do something> Like …
  • A Constructive Criticism of …
  • Myths About …

Other miscellaneous ideas

Tell a story about yourself or your activities. Everyone loves reading about humorous stories (They Laugh When I Wanted to DPS – But When I Rolled a Ret Pally…).

Interview someone in the community. There’s a whole slew of intriguing personalities around the WoW blogosphere (or podcast crews as well). What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they say no? Plus its a great way to develop friendships. I should fire up my 20 questions series again. Those were so much fun.

Ask a question. You never know what will happen when you ask a question and let the comments write the post itself. Then you can cherry pick the most insightful and turn that into a post.

Bonus: 10 Questions for a Blizzard Developer. You have a chance to sit down with a dev. What do you ask them? What do you say to them?

If you’re really stuck for post ideas, you could also write your own idea post ;). Anyway, this list is just the tip of the ice berg. I didn’t even go into detail about addons or raiding yet.

But hey, if you do take inspiration from any of these, drop me a line. I’d love to read it (and link to it in the future)!

And yes, the preview I promised you.

wom-50

All I can say is just wait until the entire thing is ready. WoM 5.0 is almost here!

Second Verse, Different than the First

Second Verse, Different than the First

**Image is text from one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

In the week since the infamous post, I’ve been able to see the wide spectrum of responses and views on the topic. I’ve been condemned and praised for it. The praise came mostly because of points made in the post; the condemnation referred to the tone I used. I let the post simmer a few days, and it’s become clear to me that the tone definitely deserves the condemnation. Anyone that has read my posts here before has come to expect different of me (I hope). That’s true. I normally don’t write with vehemence, but this time I let my professionalism go and was wrong to do so.

The Apology

It was unprofessional of me to “attack” Dills as I did. Funny enough, those that know me in real life knew my tone was lighter than it’s been made out to be. That doesn’t excuse it, nor does it allow me to assume that anyone else would be able to tell the playfulness from some letters on a screen.  We talk all the time about how it’s impossible to tell tone from a text message or an email. Something that’s meant as a tongue-in-cheek comment could be taken the complete opposite; something meant as an important conversation could be shrugged off as an “April Fool’s”-style joke. That’s the danger of writing/blogging like we do. Especially with the type of person I am outside of this game, I lost the foresight that I usually exemplify in my posts. It was never meant to be a “lol noob” type of phrasing at all (I’ll explain the Billy Madison quote in a minute). Was it meant to be a sharp criticism? Absolutely. However, the extra teeth–which came across even worse than intended–were uncalled for. I’m perfectly capable of writing a post that reflects my viewpoints and expresses my counterpoints in a clear and concise argument. Well, the argument got lost. My “bridge” comment was never meant to imply that anyone (including me) should jump off it. In Chicago, the Chicago River is actually used to move some of our sewage. People are not allowed to swim in it for fear of infection. I didn’t write the comparison to imply suicide but to simply say, “I could do this, but it wouldn’t be smart because it’s a gross river.”

The Billy Madison quote: I admit that this was a huge mistake. In drafting that post, that quote came into my head–not as a means to further slam someone but as a sort of ironic chuckle. It made me think of a movie that I know I get a kick out of. When I transcribed it, I never thought, “Ha! This’ll really show him!! RAWR!”. I thought it was a funny reference, and WoW!! was I wrong. Since I didn’t realize how my words would be interpreted, I also didn’t see the poor taste of that joke. Matt was right to remove it. I didn’t remove it originally because I was defensive and felt compelled to stand up for what I wrote. I was standing up for the wrong reasons.

Minus the tone, I still maintain the points I made about Dills’s post. It was unfair of me to attack him, but no one should be immune from criticism (even me, of course). In “An Instance of Fail”, there were rumblings of true debate in the comment section. This, to me, signified that there is real discussion in the points and counterpoints that were made. In writing the post, and even in the days following, I continued to read Dills’s entry. With all due respect, I stand by the inferences I made. There is nothing in the post that lead me to believe otherwise. I’d like to make my points in a much more civil way.

Lightwell

I really have no problem with Lightwell either coming or going. I think it’s a very interesting mechanic and can be situationally used. If it were fixed, I’m sure it’d be a great spell. It could be dropped right before a Bone Storm in Marrowgar or dropped behind the ice blocks in Sindragosa. It would be very beneficial during the 3rd phase of Professor Putricide for casters moving out of slime. Just a quick click as they’re running to the closest safe spot.  Essentially, it could benefit any fight situation where the ability to dps is hindered by movement or transition phases. It’s a great alternative to spells like Divine Hymn or Tranquility. With both of those spells, the caster (Priest and Druid, respectively) has to remain still to channel it. This allows the Priest or Druid to continue moving during a transition, put distance between himself/herself and “the bad”, or simply cast spells on others that are nearer to visiting the graveyard.

Although the fate of Lightwell doesn’t really matter, I disagree with the following phrases:

“I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.”

“That’s what the healer is for.”

I remember when I was a lowly Warlock back in SSC/TK, I was excited to start a Priest, because I wanted to be a help to the raid in whatever way I could; healing seemed to be a great fit for me. Leveling to 70 wasn’t instantaneous, obviously. I then looked at my own Warlock spellbook to see how I could help the raid beyond just my Shadow Bolt spam. When it was deemed appropriate, I would put Curse of Weakness on the boss. I was always happy to throw up Curse of Tongues on Fathom-Guard Caribdis (in the Fathom-Lord fight in SSC) to give the Shaman and Rogues enough time to interrupt his huge heal. If everyone was taking a lot of damage, I would throw Siphon Life (when it was a spell) and then Drain Life the boss to give healers some more wiggle room. I would do this even if it was a hit to my DPS. Whatever was the best way for the raid to succeed, I did it.

It’s how I continue to play today. Even when I’m DPS’ing on my Enhancement Shaman, I’ll throw out an instant Healing Wave (via Maelstrom Weapon) to help out the healers when they need it.  When I heal, if I have global cooldowns and mana to spare, I readily start DPSing the boss.  It’s the mentality that I try to encourage in the people I play with. Of course it’s our job to fill our roles, but it’s also our job to help out the rest of the raid where we can. I remember when raid members carried bandages, and used health pots (when you could chain-pot, anyways). It was always more about “us” rather than “you” and “me.” It’s the “us” mindset that helps make our in-game community strong.

Dampen/Amplify Magic

“I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.”

Although that may or may not be true for the current level of progression, look at other older bosses that stood to benefit from Amplify magic: Gruul, Patchwerk, General Vezax, Icehowl. Gruul hammers on the tank for physical damage. He doesn’t have a dedicated enrage. With Amplify Magic, you were able to squeeze a couple more Growths out of him. When Patchwerk was the gear check, we worked hard to gear up our off-tank to take the Hateful Strikes. Having Amplify Magic on the off-tanks made our heals hit harder, thereby saving our mana so we could make it to the enrage, if need be. As for Vezax, a fight where mana regen is negligible, any additional help for the healer was welcomed with open arms, especially on heroic when you’re not using the Saronite Vapor mechanic. There’s usually always at least one boss in each tier of progression that uses purely (or mostly) physical damage. If it can be used, there’s really no reason it shouldn’t be cast on a tank (or the raid, for that matter) that’s taking mostly physical damage. It’s hugely beneficial on Valithria Dreamwalker. Cast it on her and heal her quickly to 100%. Makes heroic a lot more manageable (more on this later).

“Dampen Magic is especially useless unless you are in pvp and there are no healers which usually means you will be failing no matter what you do.”

As for Dampen Magic, well of course it’s situational. A lot of mages use it for leveling. My friend Andrew plays a mage. Anytime he’s on his 56 mage and I’m on my 56 warrior, we have Dampen Magic on. It helps us out quite a bit. Some use it for farming. In those situations, less incoming damage means less time bandaging/eating. Like Dills says, it’s beneficial in PvP as well, especially world PvP or certain arena matchups. There’s some misinformation that PvP is pointless without a healer, and that’s actually not the case.  When I’m up against a mage, Dampen Magic (or Amplify, too) is just one more thing I have to dispel off of him to get to his Ice Barrier. PvP is not necessarily who has the heals, but who plays his/her character better. ArenaJunkies.com is peppered heavily with purely dps teams. A team combining a mage with any other non-healing class(es) stands to gain a lot from Dampen Magic. Everytime I see a Mage/Rogue pairing that knows how to play, it’s very tough to beat. All of that CC, and then Dampen Magic makes it that much harder. Especially in PvP, people look for whatever edge they can get, no matter how small. It doesn’t serve the PvE benefit that many would like, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless by any means.

“I do think the idea is solid but in practicality it comes up so rarely that these spells are often completely forgotten about by many Mages.”

My argument: Just because a spell is used only on the occasional fight or on a situational basis, it does not mean it’s useless. People choose not to use it, and that’s fine. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a wasted spot in the spellbook. That’s the fun of the game. Each encounter is different and calls for different abilities. I would find the game pretty boring if I had to do the same thing each and every fight. It makes me sad that interesting abilities like these are being shed.

Mind Soothe/Soothe Animal

I have to admit, I never really knew about the value of Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal until I was in SSC back in Burning Crusade. Those were the days when CC was absolutely needed. Humanoids feared us, Beasts bled us, Dragonkin healed their friends. We had to have Saps, Sheeps, Repents, and anything we could think of. My friend Jayme plays a mage. A nice, squishy clothie. I could tell he’d be nervous stepping up to ready his Polymorph. One wrong step, and that pack comes charging at him. Death would be his likely end. I could even feel the anxiety across vent. A Priest and Druid then stepped up to Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal the mobs nearest to my friend. A sense of ease fell over him. Now, it didn’t need to be so precise where his character was placed. He had a little wiggle room. The pull went as planned, and no one died.

That brings us to Instructor Razuvious, the first boss in the Military Quarter of Naxxramas. Obviously, in 25man, you need to have two Priests to Mind Control two of his Understudies. Because of their aggro range and the range of Mind Control, this pull has the potential to be hectic. The first time I tried this fight, we had to have a countdown on when to run in, hoping that my Mind Control was able to take hold before the Understudy decided I’d be better used as a doormat.  Another tactic was for our tank to run in, grab everything (and run his own risk of becoming a doormat) and possibly pull the mobs out of our range. It got frustrating, and it got frustrating fast, even with a team that I felt confident raiding. Once Mind Soothe was brought into the mix, it made everyone’s lives so much easier. I could settle into my spot, and the countdown was now when to cast Mind Control, not frantically to set up.

How about Zul’Aman? I always was so sad when they removed the Amani War Bear. We never were able to get ahead of the timer after a little while. That raid was full of Humanoids, as well as Beasts. The perfect place to use both of those spells to sneak by mobs and get the edge on that timer. Someone commented on Dills’s post that using those two spells was a great way to solidify that awesome bear for someone in his raid. I wish I would’ve thought of it at the time.

It serves a much bigger benefit than what Dills refers to as “…spells that sneaked in there because Blizzard need to give players something new around level 20 and ran out of ideas” or as a “[d]umb spell with almost no uses at all.” Keep in mind that we’re heading into an expansion that Blizzard wants to have more dependent on crowd control. I know I’d much rather be settled and ready for each pull in the new raids than have each one be a mad dash to gain control. Pulls like those lead to sloppy wipes and wasted raid time. As my buddy Dralo says, “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. Fast is deadly.” I’ve always found that Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal help that.

Thinking Outside the Box

Lodur’s guild, Unpossible, is still hammering proudly through ICC hardmodes. Valithria Dreamwalker is no cakewalk. The Emerald Dream is actually the Nightmare. Each orb applies a DoT to whoever consumes it. Simply being in the Nightmare ticks away at your health. VD’s health decays over time, which means you need more bang for your buck. Your heals need to hit has hard as possible in order to assure victory. Unpossible utilized an unorthodox technique also used by other guilds in order to get the job done. They took a BM Hunter with a bear pet. Tenacity pets have a 2-point talent called Blood of the Rhino. All heals on the pet are increased by 40%. They coupled that with Beacon of Light from their Holy Paladin. Beaconing the dragon and healing the bear resulted in a huge boost in healing. It saved mana and helped counteract the health decay. Needless to say, they won the day. That’s the beauty of this game. It’s not simply point and shoot. Takes some thinking to come up with a strategy like that. Post note: I’m aware that the mechanic was nerfed. Still took some brains to think of using those skills together, which is the point.

There are tons of ways that we can all use different spells in the game to make our playtime more enjoyable and unique. Rather than dismiss certain spells as “useless” and “dumb”, we should look for unique ways to utilize our spellbooks and challenge our minds. If someone new to the game wants advice on how to begin this journey, I try to encourage him/her to think about team before self.  Don’t shrug things off as “my job” and “your job”. Embrace the idea that defeating the raid is “our job”. Look for how your class’s lesser-known abilities could stand to help the group. Read your spellbook; try different things out. I think you might be surprised what you might find. Remember, raiding is a Team Sport. Let’s welcome the newest WoW generation with that in mind.

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

An Instance of Fail

An Instance of Fail

**Image courtesy of Universal Studios**

Matt’s note: After an actual good night’s sleep and further deliberation, I’ve exercised editorial control and removed the quote that was at the end of post as I determined it was unnecessary. The team remains committed to delivering honest and thoughtful opinion on the subject and content around the community, and it is never our intention to go after individuals.

I, like a good number of people that I play with, listen to The Instance, a WoW-based podcast featuring Scott Johnson and Randy Deluxe.  They’re an incredibly entertaining duo, and their show is produced remarkably well. Since their fame, they’ve been able to amass the largest guild in WoW, A.I.E., a Horde fan-guild on Earthen Ring.

Needless to say, they’ve developed quite a following. They score interviews with members of the Blizzard staff, host their own Nerdtacular Expo, and have even coined the famous “Obey Henry!” (a reference to Scott’s Hunter pet) phrase on bumper stickers and websites. They’ve got sponsors galore, and it shows.

A lot of people have been given the oppotunity to contribute to the success of “The Instance”, via the podcast or their blog.  Because of the “bragging rights” that come along with such an honor, it’s expected that people probably flock to get a chance.

Well, just because you get the chance, doesn’t mean you should take it.  Living in downtown Chicago, I have the chance to jump off bridges into the water below. Doesn’t mean that it’s a smart idea.

The Culprit

I try to keep a good grasp on what blogs are out in the WoW world.  A lot of us on Twitter are really good about tweeting and re-tweeting blogs that we think are relevant. I find some great articles that way, and some real duds.  That’s what brings me to “The Instance”.

I came across an article posted by someone named Dills. I checked out some of his posting history. He seems like a fairly new blogger. His posts are succinct (good), and touch on relevant topics (also good). The article I read, however, hurt my soul.

In the “calm before the storm”, we’re learning what spells are going by the wayside.  Some spells like Sentry Totem are easily justified. Their mechanics make no sense. Other spells however, will make a lot of us shed a tear upon their departure. Dills, lacking the eloquence he usually displays, delves into his opinions of what should be on the chopping block.

First Offense

Although in the healing community we beg for the repair of our beloved Lightwell, Dills calls for its demise. It’s not really the call for the demise that bothers me as much as the poor thinking that it’s derived from:

The idea is not horrible but in today’s raiding environment does anyone have time to stop their rotation for a moment to click on something for a heal?  I know when I’m dpsing or tanking the last thing I want to think about is healing.

Wrong, sir. When you gear your tank to 540 Defense (or spec into Survival of the Fittest), you’re thinking about healing. When you gather your 251+ gear for your tanking set, you’re thinking about healing. If you’re NOT thinking about healing when you’re going through your “rotation”, then you’re just a bad DPS.  It is every raid member’s responsibility to contribute to the raid as a group effort. This is why one of the quintessential rules of WoW is:

  • Don’t stand in the bad; Do stand in the good.

When you stand in the good, you’re not just “upping your numbers”, you’re assuring that the fight will progress quickly so the healers won’t run out of mana.  With Blizzard’s desire to make mana an issue for healers, this will become paramount.  When you avoid standing in the bad, you’re doing the exact same thing by saving the heals for those that really need it.

But wait!! There’s more!

That’s what the healer is for.  I’ve got a great idea.  How about we put a little Shadowwell on the ground and the healers can click on it to dps things?  Dumb right?  Right.

Wrong again, sir.  Wrong.  How many times have you been working on a progression boss and you hit that last 5% with an imminent enrage timer, then wipe?  I’m willing to bet money that part of the reason you got to that 5% in the first place is because of your healer(s) Smite-ing/HolyShock-ing/LightningBolt-ing/Wrath-ing the boss when they had the global cooldowns to spare.  I can’t tell you how many times when I raided with Lodur’s guild that the whole raid (healers included) threw everything they had at a boss in the final 10%.  I’ll use Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example. One attempt ended in our guild first, with only 2 people alive, the other 23 dead. Healers DPS’d the boss, too. “That’s what the DPS is for,” right? So does that mean the DPS wasn’t doing their job? Nope. We succeeded, which means the raid did it’s job.

Secondly, it’s obvious that Dills hasn’t been following the new game mechanics, namely that Healers will be nudged to DPS in order to regen mana. In the current build, Priests have the following talents:

  • Evangelism – When you cast Smite, you gain Evangelism increasing damage done by your Smite, Holy Nova, Holy Fire, and Penance spells by 4% and reduces the mana cost of those spells by 6% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
  • Archangel – Consumes your Evangelism effect, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana, and increases your healing done by 3% for each stack.
  • Atonement – When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low health friendly target within 8 yards equal to 15% of the damage dealt.

So, sir. If we can DPS the boss, you can help with healing.

Second Offense

Although Amplify/Dampen Magic is getting tossed onto the cutting room floor, Dills seems to think it’s welcome. His primary reasoning:

I know, we use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang fight.  I’m aware of that.  However; one fight does not make a spell useful or necessary.

How about Valithria Dreamwalker? Ever think about throwing Amplify Magic on her? And Dampen Magic, what about throwing that on your ranged tank in Blood Prince Council? I can think of a myriad of ways that this can be used on a case-by-case basis. Just because it’s not mandatory for each fight doesn’t mean that it deserves to go away.

More you ask? Sure…

I also don’t know a single Mage who is excited when I remind them to please “give amp magic to the raid please”.  They all have the same reaction, “Ugh”.

Wrong, sir. Any mage worth running with (in my opinion), is more than willing to buff the raid, if it’s necessary  or will aid in getting that solid kill.  To any player that gripes and groans because they have to buff the raid, I tell them essentially what they’re saying is “Oh noes! I have to give the raid a (possibly) better chance at downing this boss! /cry”.  It is these people that I don’t like playing with.  Our mage (also our DPS captain) always looks to see what little things the DPS can do to help out the rest of the team.

Three Strikes; You’re Out!

Last, but not least, Dills brings up Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. These are spells that I’ve become quickly familiar with through my raiding days.  Remember when CC used to be essential to getting through a raid?  Remember packs of mobs that needed to be Slept, Sheeped, Sapped, Hexed, Repented, etc? Does anyone recall Blizzard saying they’d like to see CC brought back in? I do. I welcome it. It actually makes it more interesting than “nuke da mobz wit aoe”. Let’s start at the top:

Priests can Mind Soothe which I guess could be useful while questing but if you can’t kill a mob reliably you got bigger problems than Mind Soothe can fix.

Dills, did you read the spell? Mind Soothe has no impact on the level of damage a Humanoid mob takes. It reduces the aggro range that the mob can detect you. For leveling, this means you can Mind Soothe a mob to grab that quest item you need. For dungeons, it’ll help you sneak by that one mob patrolling right near you or near a party member that was lagging behind.

I’ve heard of Priests using Mind Soothe on the Instructor Razuvious fight but I admit I have never confirmed that it really works.

Here’s some confirmation for you. In the Razuvious 25man fight, you need two priests to Mind Control.  Without Mind Soothe, they have to mash the Mind Control button as fast as they can to grab hold of the Understudies.  Why? Because when the Priest gets into range to cast the spell, he’s already in the Understudy’s aggro range. The mob starts running at the Priest, alerting the other students (and Razuvious) that he’s there. If the tank’s not fast enough, or the other Priest can’t get off Mind Control on time, the Priest is dead.

Now, with Mind Soothe, the Priest settles into this spot, casts Mind Control with ease, and there’s no mad dash to get it done. The tank can run in and get aggro on the other Understudies without fear of them charging after the Priests.

This works for any time you have to set up CC assignments before a pull. With the need for CC coming back stronger in Cataclysm, you’re gonna need Mind Soothe until you really outgear the content.  And guess what? Soothe Animal is the exact same thing, except for Beasts and Dragonkin!

I do like the idea of these spells upping the targets vulnerability to other spells though.

Where, oh where, did you even get that from the tooltips of those spells?  How does “reduces the range” mean “makes more vulnerable”?  Both of those spells are designed to help prevent face-pulling mobs by anyone other than the tank.

Head to the Dugout

In the end of Dills’s post, he says:

Leave a comment with any spells you hate or think should change or tell me how wrong my analysis is.

Gladly, sir. Let me say first that anyone is more than welcome to have their opinion. I encourage it. However, make sure you know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth if you’re looking to spur a debate. The examples provided above show a poor thought process on your part.

Your thoughts on how healing is “not your job” is an insult to the people you depend on to keep you alive. It is your duty to make sure the raid succeeds, however you can contribute to it.

The ability to think outside the box on certain spells is something I highly recommend checking out. Simply because one raid leader said to use Amplify Magic on the Saurfang encounter doesn’t make it useless everywhere else. You’ve got raiders that groan at increasing chances of success? Get new raiders.

I can certainly say that I don’t like apples because they’re fuzzy and blue and taste like feet.  You’d say I have no idea what an apple is. That’s my opinion of you regarding Mind Soothe and Soothe Animal. Try Soothe Animal in Ruby Sanctum. You may be surprised.

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

Will you Lend Me Your Brain?

Will you Lend Me Your Brain?

Torch-and-pitch

 

Halloa folks! Just a brief post from me today. Today, I’m appealing for your braaaaaaaaaaaains.

No no, I’m not trying to get you to come after me with pitchforks blazing and braziers sharpened (or something). Instead I’d like you pitch in your thoughts to a brainstorming session I’m running at the moment. I’m looking for all sorts of people: bloggers, blog readers, forum users, theorycrafters – anyone. All you need is to play WoW and have some passing interest in the World of WoW blogs.

I have already spent some time recently visiting some forums and poking a few select folks first. You folks know who you are – you’re being most helpful and a pleasure to work with, so thank you – I really appreciate it. I have a few more on the ‘to poke’ list, whom I’ll be contacting soon.

But anyone who is interested in participating in a spot of research about the news and blog scene for our collective hobby is welcome to do so.  Be assured that I don’t want any information about your personal life and that the research has no-one’s, and no blog or company’s, interests at heart. The only interests at heart here are those of the community and, well, me, because this is an interesting topic.

So if you’re interested and you feel you fit the bill as described above – great.  Wave a hand, jump up and down, bedazzle me with chocolate chip cookies, anything you fancy. Put that pitchforks down before you set the cookies on fire and let me know you’re interested.

Other methods you could use to contact me (which might work better) include commenting on this post and dropping me a line at Mimetir @ googlemail. com, sending in a contact form or poking me on twitter. Send in a hail, let me know who you are, and we’ll go from there. If you don’t feel this is your cup of tea but you know someone who might like this flavour of research, feel free to spread the word.